The Felix Laband comeback has been a joy to behold. The much-troubled producer had reached a point where he was spoken of as a legend of a time past, even though we had never really left the public consciousness. When, in 2014, he began releasing one-off singles to his Soundcloud page, each accompanied with a topical collage as the artwork, it was genuinely heartwarming to see.
The singles kept coming, expanding in scope and ambition over time and sounding much like the visuals that accompanied them – carefully crafted sound collages – inviting analysis as much as refusing to offer any explanation. His music featured more live instrumentation than ever before, and a loose spirit, all of which culminated in 2015’s monumental album Deaf Safari – his first record in nearly a decade.
Now, a mere year later, we have another release from Laband in the form of a new EP – Bag of Bones. The record features 3 reworkings of older materials, ‘Righteous Red Berets’ from his initial set of Soundcloud releases, a remix of that song by British producer Luke Vibert, and a new mix of Laband’s classic ‘Donkey Rattle’ from the man himself.
While EPs presented like this are often low stake affairs, Bag of Bones manages to create a world of it’s own within its spare running time through detailed, slow-building writing and long-form arrangements. Card on Spokes / Shane Cooper adds to the numerous layers of the title track with some nimble bass work too, so this certainly isn’t your average record from Felix – an habitually solitary songwriter.
Laband has mentioned before how getting back into guitar playing, home recording, and overt emoting have come to define this latest phase of his career, and it shows in the intensely personal feeling of the music on display here. Even the Luke Vibert remix employs an additive approach rather than a deconstructive one, decidedly magnifying the mood already established by ‘Righteous Red Berets’ rather than taking it in a completely new direction.
The slipshod sound collaging style, grabbing snippets of charged speech and protest song won’t be for everyone and certainly doesn’t concern itself with nuance as much as world-building, though. But, as far as creating a mood or tension goes, Felix is in his element once again.